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Politics in the Pacific: China, Japan, South Korea and Australia

China wants to use the BRICS organisation as an alternative to the US-led world order and a tool to expand its political influence in the world. During the November BRICS virtual summit, topics discussed included solutions to end Israel’s war with Hamas. For the first time, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates participated in it. These countries will officially join BRICS in 2024 and support China’s Belt and Road initiative.

China is investing in the country’s maritime capabilities – the naval base in Yulin, the home port of China’s submarine fleet in the South China Sea, is currently undergoing a significant expansion. The new quay will be able to accommodate, among others, large underwater drones. At the same time, the Chinese authorities want to renew their defence relations with Australia. At the beginning of November this year, the Australians informed the Chinese about injuries suffered by Australian Navy divers as a result of sonar pulses generated by a Chinese destroyer in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. China’s Ministry of Defense rejected Australian claims.

The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea will likely meet in 2024 in an attempt to ease regional tensions exacerbated by North Korea’s weapons program and a more active U.S. military presence in the region. Foreign ministers of Asian countries have just agreed to tighten cooperation in critical areas, including security, and prepare the ground for the first summit of their countries’ leaders in four years.

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